The Putin Files: Yevgenia Albats

MICHAEL KIRK – OK, so here we go. Let’s start back in the moment where the
Wall hasn’t fallen quite yet. Tell me about the KGB that Vladimir Putin
is in at that time. YEVGENIA ALBATS – The KGB was the most powerful
institution of the Soviet Union. If you compare it to what you have in the
United States—and in the United States, you have the Community of Intelligences, you
know, about 15 or 16 organizations who comprise the community of intelligence services in
your country. In the Soviet Union, KGB had everything inside
one institution. It was your FBI, your CIA, your NSA and everything
else, just in one. It was a monopoly that produced violence. It was a monopoly that was responsible for
political surveillance on everyday basis of Soviet citizens. Nothing could go without the KGB. There were departments that controlled intelligentsia,
intellectuals; that controlled media; that all, without no exception, were state-owned,
controlled the church. Any confession [faith], each and every confession,
KGB was responsible for appointing the leaders of different congregations. For instance, one of the documents that I
have in my possession, and I had in my book, was that they installed the KGB officer as
the leader of the Pentecostals in the Soviet Union. … So they controlled church; they controlled
sports; they controlled everything that had to do with science; they controlled everything
that had to do with the work of Soviet research institutions. And so it goes. MICHAEL KIRK – You said in your book, I think,
it was a state within a state. YEVGENIA ALBATS – Yep. MICHAEL KIRK – What does that mean? YEVGENIA ALBATS – It meant exactly that it
was the Soviet state. Communist Party wasn’t a party, of course;
it was the institution of the state. It was what we mean in political science by
a state, right? It was the way of running the country. And this was very important institution in
the Soviet Union. And there was the second institution that
also, as the Communist Party, had its officers top down from the center, Moscow, all the
way to the smallest town in the furthest provinces of the Soviet Union, all across its 11 time
zones, in all 15 republics, everywhere. So there was some sort of competition between
the Central Committee of the Communist Party and its regional organizations and the KGB
and its regional organizations in the provinces of the Soviet Union. Now we understand that it was, by the way,
not a bad idea to have this competition between two monopolies, because at least they were
somehow concentrated on each other, and they were less concerned about us. What we have now in Russia is the same KGB,
only without any control from the side of another monopoly. It is an organization that is responsible
for political policing of institutions in this country, monetary and businesses and
you name it. At the same time, it has access to the biggest
resources of this country. The representatives of the KGB, these were
another. They controlled the major state-owned corporations. Just look around it. The biggest now in the world, oil company,
Rosneft, it is so to say state-owned oil company; its CEO, Mr. Igor Sechin, the closest person
to Vladimir Putin, and himself a graduate from the intelligence. Rostec, huge industrial state-owned corporation,
which own something like over 500 different enterprises, heavily involved, of course,
in the military-industrial complex, etc. It is run by Putin’s pal. They both were in the resident tour in Dresden,
East Germany, back in 1980s, Sergey Chemezov. We can go one by one, and I will be able to
show you that all the major institutions, all the major businesses that [are] connected
with oil and gas or with telecommunications or with financial transactions, especially
those that are responsible for the cash in-and-out flow, they’re all controlled by the KGB people. Basically, as I said, what we have in Russia
now, it is that the state within the state became the state; that the state, that the
corporation by the name KGB regained its power, and on the bigger scale than it had during
the Soviet Union. MICHAEL KIRK – Let’s go back to the powerful
KGB in ’88, ’89, ’90. Place Vladimir Putin in that KGB for me, will
you? Who is he, and what does it mean for young
Vladimir Putin to be in the KGB? YEVGENIA ALBATS – First of all, I think it’s
important to say that there are a lot of misunderstandings in the West with respect to his education. When you read Western newspapers and Western
publications, they say that Putin graduated from the law school. He never did. The St. Petersburg University had a faculty
that was called the Department of Judiciary, but it had nothing to do with preparing lawyers
or attorneys or anything like that. These were the usual education for the future
Soviet Union bureaucrats. This department didn’t prepare lawyers or
didn’t teach the supremacy of law, never, ever. This department was preparing obedient bureaucrats. That’s number one. Secondary, as we know, after graduation, he
was accepted to the KGB headquarters in St. Petersburg. Well, then it was Leningrad. And he worked in the counterintelligence. He worked in this counterintelligence. Some of his duties were closely interrelated
with the ideological counterintelligence, which was responsible for supervising and
treating dissidents. At some point in his life, Putin became a
student of the Intelligence Academy; back then it was called School. Now it is Academy, which is named after Yuri
Andropov. Yuri Andropov was the one-time head of the
KGB, and then, at the end of his life, he became the leader of the state, the general
secretary of the Communist Party. Putin started in this Intelligence School. He wanted to be transferred from counterintelligence
to intelligence. It is the separate department, separate directorate;
it was the separate directorate in the KGB. But he never succeeded in that. Back at that time, in early and mid-1980s,
there were two very special outposts of the Soviet intelligence, one in Europe and another
one in Afghanistan. In Europe it was in Berlin, in East Germany,
which was called back then German Democratic Republic, GDR. There was a huge compound called Karlshorst
which basically resembled the structure of the KGB in Moscow. Each and every department of the Soviet KGB
sent their representatives to East Germany. And the same was done in Afghanistan, in Kabul,
because Soviets, as you well aware, were conducting a war with Afghanistan. There was, however, in GDR, there was another
post, a secondary source, in Dresden, and that’s exactly where Vladimir Putin was
sent after he graduated from the Intelligence School. His German was very good. There are gossips about what department sent
him. To my knowledge, he was sent by the so-called
Personnel Department of the KGB. As I said, each and every department had their
positions in the GDR’s intelligence offices. His job there was he served as a director
of—it’s called House of French. It’s like a club. Anyway, he was responsible for surveillancing
of the foreign businessmen and Soviet bureaucrats who were coming to Dresden to conduct different
kinds of negotiations. That was his responsibility. He had quite an unfortunate end of his career,
because the Berlin Wall fell. Crowds stormed the Stasi offices in Karlshorst
and in Dresden, and basically, Soviet intelligence had to run as quickly as possible in order
to escape the angry crowds. … MICHAEL KIRK – But tell me for a moment, just
what was his life story before getting into the KGB? Was he a wealthy young man? What class did he grow up in? YEVGENIA ALBATS – There was no wealthy young
or old men in this country back then. All of us, we were poor as, you know, as rats. So no, there were no wealthy people. He grew up in the very—in a low-class family,
in a working-class family. His father was not exactly working-class family. They were very poor. However, his father, during the World War
II, served in what was called SMERSH [counterintelligence directorate]. … MICHAEL KIRK – So this young man, who comes
from a low-class family— YEVGENIA ALBATS – So Putin came from a very
poor family. His parents survived the war. And he was born when his parents already,
I believe, were around 40 years old. They lived in what was called in the Soviet
Union a communal flat. It means several families were living in one
apartment. I gather his life was pretty difficult. In a way, it became important when he joined
the KGB because there was—KGB was a very caste organization. Those who were children of the
Soviet nobility, Soviet aristocracy, meaning members of the central committee of the Communist
Party, Politburo, or top layers of army and KGB, they were accepted to Department of Intelligence,
because they were stationed abroad. And each and every Soviet citizen dreamed
to get outside the country and to live outside the country without all these pleasantries
of the Communist state. Putin was from the low background, … and
for him, … joining KGB, it was a sort of a social lift for him. MICHAEL KIRK – He moved up the ladder. YEVGENIA ALBATS – Yes. KGB, as I said, KGB was the most, especially
in the late, last decade of the Soviet Union, it was the most powerful institution of the
country, and being a KGB officer meant that you were going to have, not probably luxury
life, but for sure well better than the life of the average Soviet citizen. … MICHAEL KIRK – So here is this guy who comes
from a lower class. It’s a lift to him to get into the KGB,
to get a posting outside of the country. That’s a big positive, too. YEVGENIA ALBATS – Yes. MICHAEL KIRK – So he probably thinks he’s
on a kind of glide path. He’s going to have a successful life. And then, lo and behold, he and 800,000 other
KGB members are shipwrecked, as David likes to say. They’re out of work. Describe the circumstances for them, or what
that must have been like for Vladimir Putin. YEVGENIA ALBATS – In fact, you know, he was
unfortunate even before the Soviet Union collapsed, and KGB guys found themselves to be in perils. No, it was when he returned back from his
post in German Democratic Republic, he tried to join the ranks of the intelligence, and
he was denied. He was denied this job, and it became clear
that his career was over. Soviet Union was still in place. So he had to return back to Leningrad. And he wanted to be in the Intelligence Headquarters
here in Moscow in Yasenevo. It’s in the south of the city. He had to return back to Leningrad, and he
became deputy to dean in Leningrad State University, responsible for surveilling foreign students
and whatever foreigners were coming to the university. MICHAEL KIRK – Not exactly James Bond. YEVGENIA ALBATS – Not exactly James Bond. That’s the kind of job that was reserved
for the retired intelligence people. And he was young. He was still in his 40s. And of course, you know, life had to look
to him as that his life was evolving in quite unfortunate way. MICHAEL KIRK – So tell me, what’s the difference? What happens to him? That guy—of course there’s [Leningrad Mayor
Anatoly] Sobchak. But there’s also, he finds himself years later—not
that many years later—as the head of the FSB [Federal Security Service] in Moscow. What happened? How did he do that? YEVGENIA ALBATS – First of all, I think that
he’s a smart guy. He’s smart. He’s very shrewd. He is capable. He was trained very well in the Intelligence
School. He’s very capable of recruiting people. You know, when you talk to people who know
him and knew him personally, they keep telling you that Putin was, during their conversations,
Putin was very charming, and he used to say during the conversation what exactly what
you wanted to hear from him. Few people realized that he was very skillful
recruiter as an intelligence officer, KGB officer. He was able to talk to people in a way that
people felt like he was their best friend; that in fact he was going to basically you
can do everything together; that he’s, you know, he’s one of us. I remember when I was doing a first profile
on Putin, back in 1999 for the Newsweek International, and I spoke with one of his colleagues from
St. Petersburg. … And he told me, “Zhenia, he’s exactly
like you and me.” I said: “What do you mean, like you and
me? We come from the intellectual backgrounds. I was in dissident circles during the Soviet
times. What do you mean?” “He’s exactly like us,” he said. And that’s the kind of impression that many
of those liberals and democrats who met Putin back in mid-1990s, and in St. Petersburg,
and later in Moscow, they felt like: “Yeah, he’s from the KGB, so what? You know, he’s one of us. He’s exactly like us. He’s a democratically minded person.” He’s not. He’s a big liar. He’s trained—he’s a—I would correct
myself. He’s a professional liar. To lie is what he was taught in the Intelligence
School. He knows the art of pretendance. That’s what he was told in the Intelligence
School. He knows how to recruit people, how to make
people think that he is going to work in their favor, on behalf of them. But that all is just one big lie. MICHAEL KIRK – So he was lying to Yeltsin
and the people around Yeltsin? YEVGENIA ALBATS – Of course, of course. Of course he was lying to them. He was pretending that he was going to pursue
the same development of Russia as Yeltsin did. In fact, you know, to be honest, what’s important
to understand, Yeltsin didn’t like him. Yeltsin had the choice of several—among
several people, and he favored a person who is no longer with us, Mr. [Nikolai] Aksenenko,
who was head of railroad’s monopoly back in late 1990s and a transportation minister
in the then-Cabinet of the Russian government. So Yeltsin wanted Aksenenko. However, people around him, and especially
those who were extremely influential—I’m talking about Yeltsin’s daughter, Tatyana
Yumasheva; his son-in-law and former chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev; and Putin’s
first chief of staff, Alexander Voloshin. These were people around Yeltsin. And Yeltsin was sick, and not exactly coherent,
when the decision was made. They convinced him to look closely at Putin. And I remember, you know, I had a conversation
with one of them shortly before the first inauguration of Vladimir Putin in 2000, in
May of 2000. It was in Kremlin, in the building of the
administration of the president, and I said: “What are you doing? Don’t you understand that it’s not just
one man, one person from the KGB who’s coming into top leadership of the country? It is the corporation, the corporation of
the KGB, which is going to take over.” And the response was—first of all, you have
to understand, I was talking out loud, and he was writing to me responses. He knew that he was under surveillance. Anyway, and he wrote to me, “We fully control
him.” Uh-uh. It’s the biggest mistake that you can make,
because no civilian is capable to control intelligence officer. To be sure—
MICHAEL KIRK – What was the— YEVGENIA ALBATS – Just one second. Let me finish this. MICHAEL KIRK – Yep. YEVGENIA ALBATS – No civilian organization
is capable to control a special service. Only another special service is capable to
control. MICHAEL KIRK – Because? YEVGENIA ALBATS – Because the special services,
they have special techniques. … That’s why it’s so important that in the
United States, you have several competing secret services, which compete with each other
for the money from the same intelligence committee of Congress. Of course it was a
huge mistake on the part of Yeltsin’s advisers that they chose a KGB colonel as the next
president of Russia. Basically, I mean, what happened next was
doomed to happen, and was decided back when they made this choice. And that’s exactly what we see now. MICHAEL KIRK – What was it? What was the first indication you had, looking
at the new president, that this was going to be what it has become? YEVGENIA ALBATS – I can give you a very simple
example. The same person who told me that he is like
us, like you and me … He told me, “What kind of proof do you want
that Putin is not just this nasty KGB bastard?” And I said: “Listen, Sergei Kovalev, a great
human rights activist, who spent seven years in the Soviet gulag as a political dissident,
who was the publisher of the underground newspaper Khronika Tekushchikh Sobytiy [Chronicle of
Current Events], he’s about to have his jubilee. Let’s make Putin to send him a telegram
with his congratulations.” It’s, of course, a joke. A KGB guy sending a congratulation message
postcard to a dissident who fought against KGB his entire life—of course it’s a joke. Anyway, I wrote a letter. My conversator picked it up in the special
envelope and delivered this directly to Putin. Sure enough, Sergei Kovalev never received
this postcard. But that’s some sort of an anecdote. When Putin was making his speeches, it became
clear that the guy has no views of his own, or he was trying to console him. He was talking a lot about dictatorship of
law. I remember one of the first columns I wrote
back then for the Moscow Times, my argument was, “Look, we are going to see dictatorship
without law, precisely because we know something about Putin from his years in St. Petersburg.” By then, there were already some research
done by reporters in this country, which became clear that Putin was involved in all kinds
of very murky affairs in St. Petersburg government. To be sure, ’90s were not about the law;
1990s in Russia was about stealing the state. And you know, there [is] one very good book
called Oligarchs, written by David Hoffman, that tells you all about these 1990s. But Putin was involved, and we know this very
well, that he was involved in all kind of very murky affairs, one of which was called
“oil in exchange for food.” Obviously, he made his first—I don’t know,
millions—he probably became wealthy out of those first deals back in St. Petersburg. Anyway, so it was clear that he wasn’t exactly
the guy with very clean hands. But he was young, very vocal, very capable
of making people—and not just in a room, but people in the streets, crowds—to believe
that on one hand, he’s one of them; on the other hand, he’s capable to protect them. He was this strongman, guy with a strong hand,
who came to help Russia to find some law and order at long last. He never provided neither law nor order. We are facing political repressions now, beatings
of the political opposition on a daily basis, and many other things that we hoped never
to see again. However, back then, Putin was very capable
in convincing people that he was going to be as much democratic leader as Yeltsin was. But he’s not going to be drunk on a daily
basis as Yeltsin was. He’s going to be strong, smart, and he will
constrain oligarchs who were still in the state. And he was going to make Russian people well,
prosper[ous] and happy. MICHAEL KIRK – When he takes over the television
and the media, in that sense, what does that tell you? YEVGENIA ALBATS – Putin, as I said, he’s
smart. His first campaign back in 1999-2000, it wasn’t
a real campaign; it wasn’t a presidential campaign. The whole campaign was on TV sets. He himself was made a public figure by a TV
network, by TV networks. Putin realized that in order not to have any
contester, any opposition, he has to have full control over networks. His first move was to take control over private
TV network and TV, and then, step by step, he got control over each and every TV network
in this country. And then, you know, everything else followed:
newspapers, information agencies. Now we are left—there is one independent
magazine, one independent newspaper, one Internet-based independent TV channel. That’s it. That’s all left for the country of 150 million
people. MICHAEL KIRK – That’s just enough to make
it look like there’s a loyal opposition, but not enough for there to be a real opposition? YEVGENIA ALBATS – No, of course there is a
real opposition. It’s weak, and it’s fighting for its survival. But there is a real opposition. MICHAEL KIRK – Let’s stay for a minute back
in the 2000s. … My sense was, he’s re-elected a couple
of times. People liked him. But what is happening to him and Russia and
the view of Russia by Russians while he’s president in those first years? YEVGENIA ALBATS – We have a huge problem,
you and I, because by saying elected, we mean different things. MICHAEL KIRK – What do you mean? YEVGENIA ALBATS – There was no elections. Each and every election since 2000 was staged. There was no elections. They were controlled by Kremlin. The distribution of money was controlled by
Kremlin. Each and every sponsor of any party had to
bring cash to Kremlin. [In] 2003, Putin put Mikhail Khodorkovsky
in jail, once the wealthiest man in Russia and the sponsor of a couple of political parties. Precisely for doing that, Khodorkovsky went
in jail, even though, you know, he was sentenced for tax evasion, etc. Anyway, so—and Putin made it clear to businessmen
that if they want to be well and free and alive, they should abstain from providing
any money to any political parties, any media, anything, without consensus from the Kremlin. Beginning 2003 elections, each and every sponsor
of any political party or any political candidate had to bring cash, first to Kremlin, and then
it was Kremlin who decided where the money went. There was no contestation. There was no equal access to the media. Putin’s political opponents, whether parties
or personalities, they were unable, get it, to get the same representation at TV as party
in power or not talking about Putin himself. And besides that, there was all kind of fraud
conducted during the day of the elections. There were fake ballots that were submitted
in many, many voting booths across the Russian Federation, especially so in the ethnic republics. I remember there was a great case in 2007,
I believe, or maybe it was in 2011—doesn’t matter—during the parliamentary elections,
when in one voting region of the republic of Chechnya, it is a republic in the Russian
Caucasus, 102 percent of the villagers voted for the party in power, 102 percent. That was an ordinary thing across the ethnic
republics, whether we’re talking about Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Moldavia, Bashkiria,
Tatarstan, etc. That’s predominantly Muslim enclaves inside
the Russian Federation, which are tightly controlled by the local barons. These are some sort of sultanates that existed
inside the Russian Federation. Western media doesn’t go there, don’t
go there and don’t know anything about that. But it doesn’t matter. Anyway, that’s the place where the biggest
fraud [is] done. However, not just there. As a result precisely of this election fraud,
resulted into the mass protests in December of 2011 and the winter of 2012. MICHAEL KIRK – Tell me the specifics of that. What happens there? You know, we— YEVGENIA ALBATS – There, where? MICHAEL KIRK – In the protests that emerge
following the elections in September and into the fall of ’11 and ’12, what does Putin
chalk that up to? What does he believe is actually happening
in that protest movement? What does he recognize it as, and what is
it really? YEVGENIA ALBATS – In December of 2011, there
was parliamentary elections in the Russian Federation, and there was a massive fraud. However, by 2012, we see the rise of the middle
class in the Russian Federation that didn’t, of course, exist in the Soviet times. As a result of high oil prices and windfall
profits, a lot of people, especially in this city, Moscow, got pretty rich, or at least
wealthy, by our standards. And as a theory of democratization will argue,
they had time and money and desire to ask those in power to share in power. They were taxpayers, and they paid taxes,
and they wanted to have control over their taxes. So these people went out in the streets, in
Moscow, in December 2011, when the massive fraud during the elections was reported by
the independent media. However, back then, a couple months before,
on October 24, 2011, the then-president of the Russian Federation, who basically was
Putin’s puppet in Kremlin, Dmitry Medvedev, and Vladimir Putin, who back then was the
prime minister of the Russian Federation, they decided to make a change. They announced to all of us that they decided
that, from now on, Putin is going to be president, and Medvedev was going to be prime minister. Somehow people got confused. “Wait a second,” they said. “You two decided they are going to make
a change? And where are we in this puzzle?” And apparently, the answer was: “F— you. We couldn’t care less about you guys. You pay taxes? Yeah, keep doing this, you know. But we already decided. So, you know, stay clean. Don’t bug us.” And that made people mad. Especially those things—this wasn’t just
those poor, poor Soviets who were working 24/7 to get some bread. These were people who already had bread and
butter, so they decided to request their rights. They said: “Wait a second. Uh-uh. No, no, we don’t like this, you know. You have to ask us.” That’s how the whole protest started. It went into the winter of 2011. Many people in Kremlin did believe that crowds
were going to storm the administration of the president. They were dead afraid. They were dead afraid, but Putin wasn’t. And Putin made it clear that he didn’t believe
that these were Russian people who asked for their share in political life. I believe it was March 2012 when he said that
it was State Department of the United States of America and its then-Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton who provided funds and means to the Russian opposition and made them to
get out on the streets. MICHAEL KIRK – He blamed America. YEVGENIA ALBATS – He blamed Hillary Rodham
Clinton personally, State Department as an institution, and United States as the country. The trick is—and you know, if you ask him,
you would realize that he believes in that, because in his KGB mentality, there is no
freewill. He just doesn’t understand this. You know, all these ideas about values, freedom,
democracy, rule of law, he believes that this is nothing but chattering; that that’s what
Western powers are trying to present their values. But in fact everywhere, countries are run
exactly as Russia is run. Let me give you one story. I think it was something like in 2010, wherein
my magazine, The New Times, a very hard story on the Russian police. Police got mad, Kremlin got mad, and especially
so since they requested from me the names of our sources. And as I am supposed to, by the Russian law,
I said: “No, I am not going to provide you with any sources. You can call me to the court, but I’m not
going to do this.” They searched the office, and they created
all kind of problems to the newsroom. And that, you know—it was still, you know,
this marvelous times, 2010. God, you know, Putin’s regime was still
in vegetarian state. So
it was reported by foreign media, by independent press here in Moscow. And I’m getting a call from Michael McFaul,
who then was a special assistant to President Obama. He worked in National Security Council. He came to Moscow, and I knew Mike McFaul
since late 1980s. He was a political scientist who was doing
his dissertation, a Ph.D. thesis on Russia, etc. We met back then. And then, when I was at Harvard, you know,
he was at Stanford. Anyway, he called me and said, “Zhenia,
how can I help you?” And I said: “You know what, Mike? Would you please to come to my office?” Mike came the next day. We had a conversation. I knew that the office was taped, of course. I knew that. So he asked what happened. I explained to him what happened, we wrote
the story, they want a source—blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, this kind of stuff. I knew, of course, that everything was taped. Two days after, a colonel who conducted the
search in my office, who was in charge of—called me and said, “You know, we need to meet.” I said, “OK, Come.” He came; he said, “You know, where we can
speak?” I said, “You know, you know better than
I do where you installed your equipment.” So we went to the stairs. I said, “It’s safe here?” He said, “It’s safe here.” “OK,” I said, “Thanks for telling me
that.” And he said: “Well, Yevgenia, I know that
you had this conversation with a special assistant to President Obama. I am afraid now I am going to have troubles
getting a visa to the United States, and I have my sister living in the United States.” Anyway, to cut a long story short, approximately
eight months later, he called me again; he came and said, “You know, we stopped an
investigation into”—they, you know, police start the investigation into our report, our
story, and they were claiming they were going to run a case against the magazine. So he came and said: “You know, everything
stopped. Worry not.” I said, “What happened?” He said: “You know what happened, and we
know what happened. Michael McFaul returned back to that Washington,
D.C. He went to President Obama, and told him about
what happened with The New Times. President Obama called President Medvedev. Medvedev called our minister and ordered to
stop any investigations against The New Times.” Sure enough, it never happened. You understand that Michael McFaul never told
a word to President Obama, and President Obama never called President Medvedev on our behalf. But that illustrates that people here, especially
those in the law, in the punitive organizations, they believe that the world is run exactly
as it is in Russia. Everything is very corrupted. There is no rules, you know, and everything
is based on this personal basis. That’s why Putin himself, he honestly doesn’t
believe that people can get out on the streets just because they don’t like people in power
or because they want to get some rights. That’s why he doesn’t believe, when people
in the Ukraine, in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, went out on Maidan and stayed there for several
months until the corrupted—the then-president of Ukraine, corrupted from top down, Mr. [Viktor]
Yanukovych, fled the country, and he believes that it was the United States who conducted
a coup in Ukraine. Sincerely, he doesn’t believe that democracy,
freedoms, desire of people to share in governments, desire of people to control those in power,
free journals with all those things, do exist. He just doesn’t believe. His understanding of the world is very simplistic,
very simplistic. All countries, all governments, all people,
all they want is to be rich and safe. That’s it—if not rich, but well-to-do
and safe, that’s it. They couldn’t care less about anything else. And all these chattering about human rights,
democracy, forget about this. It’s all—it’s like some sort of a performance,
he believes, conducted by the Western states in order to grab their piece of control over
the sovereignty of the Russian Federation. That’s the biggest problem, that his education,
his background, his personal experience doesn’t allow him to believe in anything in what you
and I, we believe. It’s all foreign to him. MICHAEL KIRK – You know, one version of this
story a lot of people tell us, going all the way up to Ukraine, is that Putin comes in,
he wants a kind of respect from the world. He believes that the world, the presidents
from Bush on look at Russia as a—even from what Obama says, you know, as a sort of developing
nation or something like that, a sort of lower class, one rung lower, smaller than Portugal,
whatever. YEVGENIA ALBATS – Regional power. Obama said regional power. MICHAEL KIRK – Yeah, regional power. … Putin’s quest, probably tied up in his
own ego, his quest for respect, for Russia and for himself, goes across that decade,
2000 to 2010, ’11, ’12. Certainly the Medvedev, the idea that we are
going to push the button and change everything about American policy and Obama and Hillary
came in, with all of that, his quest has been to get respect for Russia and for himself,
so that by 2012-2013, there is a sort of revenge component to what he is doing vis-à-vis the
West. You first hear about it in 2007, in the Munich
speech. You hear about it again. You look for what he’s doing in Sochi. What’s he trying to do there? Ukraine is meanwhile happening. Help me with that perspective. Do you see it that way? Do Russians see it that way? YEVGENIA ALBATS – First of all, you know,
I cannot speak, of course, for all Russians. I think that it’s true that Putin personally
had a trauma when Soviet Union fell apart. He was crème de la crème of the Soviet bureaucracy,
the KGB officer. He probably believed that he was defending
the interests of this inhuman state when he was posted in Germany, so it was a trauma
to him when Soviet Union fell apart, and all of a sudden, KGB became an institution that
was blamed by everything for what happened in August of 1991, during failed coup in Moscow
and other cities of the Soviet Union. I think he has these ideas. First of all, you know, I think Putin is a
Stalinist. He’s not this Orthodox Stalinist whom we
used to know, people who kept saying about, you know, who kept excusing Stalin for the
mass murder he committed in this country. Millions of people were killed in this country,
in the gulag, during Stalin’s purges, during the Great Terror. But Putin believes that the way Stalin ran
this country and the place that Stalin gained for the Soviet Union in the West was a success. Russia was an agricultural country before
the Great October Socialist Revolution, and it became an industrial state before the World
War II. So I think it was very unpopular, sort of
archaic, in 1990s to praise Stalin. However, obviously, now he has the possibility
not to counsel his true feelings, and that came out in the last years in full. He believes that people, they’re like children. They’re babies, you know. They have to be told how to behave, what to
think, what to believe in. We clearly see it now in the politics that
he conducts in this country. He believes that Russia is an empire, and
he would like to reinstate the Soviet Union, not as it was back before the 1991, when it
was a huge country comprised of 15 republics. There were 300 million people living in the
Soviet Union. No, he doesn’t want to be responsible for
people in Turkmenistan or Tajikistan or Uzbekistan in Central Asia, no. But he does want for Russia to be in control
for those former republics of the Soviet Union. He wants [the] West to stay aside. He wants [the] West to know that countries
like Ukraine, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Baltics, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldavia, these
are countries [within] this sphere of influence of Russian Federation, and you stay away. He doesn’t believe in the sovereignty of
these small countries. They were part of the Russian Empire before
1917. They were part of the Soviet Union after 1917,
and all the way to 1991. … So yes, he’s imperialist for sure, and
he doesn’t want anyone to tell him what he has to do or not to do in this country. He doesn’t believe that human rights doesn’t
have boundaries, that regardless where it happens, rulers are supposed to at least,
you know, to pretend that they respect the values that they’re proclaiming by the United
Nations. He doesn’t believe in all of that. He has to have free hands to do for him whatever
he wants in this part of the world. That’s it. MICHAEL KIRK – And the idea that he’s been
disrespected by the American—that Russia has been disrespected by American presidents,
Clinton through Obama, Clinton, Bush, and Obama, and the sense that he personally doesn’t
have the clout, the whatever, that he wishes he would have. You see him sitting alone in G-20 conferences. To what extent does that contribute to what
almost feels like revenge? YEVGENIA ALBATS – I guess if we’re talking
about revenge, it’s probably something that does drive Putin, revenge for the humiliation
of late 1980s, 1990s, when Russia was dead poor and had nothing in the central bank coffers
and had to ask for support from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund—for
sure, you know. But I don’t know. I just think that
Putin feels himself as a new type of Russian czar. He wants to have this place in history and
in the minds of the people that he is the one who is running the country, running the
lives of the citizens of this country, and who is capable to withstand any pressure,
whether it’s coming through United States, Germany or any European Union or any other
place in the world. … MICHAEL KIRK – Do you think he initiated the
hack? YEVGENIA ALBATS – We have very little information
to be honest with you. It’s difficult, I guess, for journalists,
and especially for journalists here in Russia. We read the reports produced by the intelligence
community without any facts. There are almost no facts in those reports. There are just, you know, the joint statement
of the American intelligence organizations who say Russians hacked computers. Putin himself gave orders to do that. I am a reporter. It’s difficult for me to make conclusions
based on such insufficient evidence. What I do know is that there was a huge desire
on the part of the KGB people and the community of members of these punitive organizations
in Russia for Donald Trump to become a president. They believed that he was going to drop down
sanctions; that all the problems, economic problems, that Russia is experiencing now,
because of the sanctions imposed by the then-President Obama, Donald Trump is going to drop down
and say, “Forget about these,” and everything will come to normal. They will start getting cheap Western money
once again, and they will start traveling abroad, and they will conduct the same life
they had before those sanctions. When Donald Trump won the election, there
was huge celebrations here in Moscow, in the governmental institutions. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen
in my life. To be sure, this country is run on the anti-American
rhetoric, and it’s like 24/7. You know, if there is evil exists in the world,
it has your face, an American face, right? There was a celebration in what they call
parliament, this conglomerate of those people who call themselves representatives. They’re not. Don’t buy this, but they pretend as if they
are. A notorious figure of the Russian politics,
Mr. [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky, toasted for Trump and for his success in the elections. The head of the Russian propaganda mouthpiece,
Russia Today, or RT, she wrote, she tweeted a saying that she was almost ready to put
American flag on her car. Unbelievable, you know. Anyway, so for sure, Trump was the first choice
of the Russian bureaucracy, of all these KGB men. It’s true, too, that Putin hated Clinton
and was afraid of Clinton. Now, we can review the question by comparison,
by historical comparison. It once happened—probably not once, but
you know, this was documented—when Soviets took part in the American elections. It wasn’t the first time now. … We know this from so-called Mitrokhin Archives. The slogan of the operation, the slogan of
this disinformation campaign that was conducted by the Soviet agents on the territory of the
United States, as well as in Europe, was “Reagan Means War!” Soviet agents were quite successful in Europe. A lot of newspapers in Northern Europe and
Central Europe ran stories that was cooked in the KGB headquarters. Some, as far as I understand, some American
media were also involved. However, as we’re well aware, Reagan had
a landslide victory back then. They totally failed. However, what’s interesting about this example,
that Soviet leadership seriously believed that they were able to corrupt American elections
through their money, through their cooked publications, etc. Putin grew up inside the KGB. Andropov was, according to what we know about
him, … Andropov was one of those whom, you know, he believed to be—to model his life
after, right? I don’t have trouble imagining that somebody
from the intelligence community brought him this case and said, “You know, why don’t
we try?” In any case, if what we read in the American
newspapers is true, it doesn’t sound to me as forma impossible. I think, you know, yes, if there is a proof,
then of course these kind of covert action could have happened only with OK from President
Putin himself. Nobody beneath him would have allowed himself
to conduct that type of operation without president’s OK. So for sure, Putin was, if it had happened,
for sure that Putin was involved. Now, what we suspect we know is that Russian
hackers, Russian hackers supposedly, allegedly hacked the computers of the Democratic Party
as well as Republican Party, and also hacked computers in the 30 states, the electoral
computers of 30 states. Is it possible? Of course it’s possible. We do know that Russian hackers, during the
war—during the short-lived war between Russia and Georgia, Russian hackers hacked the computers
of the Georgian government. Russian hackers hacked the computers of the
Estonian government when there was some problems between the two states. Russians hacked the computers of Moldavian
government. MICHAEL KIRK – Ukraine. YEVGENIA ALBATS – And I believe Ukrainian
government, yes, and Ukrainian government, of course. Once again, we do know that Russian cyber
divisions, and they existed in this country, cyber divisions, cyber army, that they are
capable of putting down the computers of the foreign governments, foreign states. So if they’re capable to do this in Georgia
and Ukraine, why not try to do it in the United States? MICHAEL KIRK – What does he want? If it happened, if he did initiate it, what
does Putin want? YEVGENIA ALBATS – I think, first and foremost,
he wanted to create a mess. He wanted to make it clear, both domestically
and to show this to the world, that democracy is all about cash. And that it’s—that’s a mess; that there
is no way for an honest election. He wanted to make it clear that there is no
difference between what is happening here domestically in Russia, what they call elections,
and the kind of elections that exist in the United States. He wanted to present democracy as a chaos,
as something that is full of lies, corruption and distortions and etc., etc., etc. I think that was his basic goals. He is going after Western values, not just
after personalities. He is eager to portray the Western values
as something that is not valuable to fight for. His audience is domestic first and foremost,
of course, but not just that. He is looking at former Soviet allies in Southern
and Central Europe. That’s also message to them, to people in
Poland, in Hungary, in Romania, etc., etc. He wants to tell them: “Forget about this,
you know. What are you talking about? Elections, freedoms, democracy—forget about
all that. It’s just bulls—. It’s just the way Western governments, leaders
of the Western world, they are trying to take over our resources, our people, our minds,
etc.” If you listen to his top allies, to his top
advisers, like for instance his national security adviser, they are talking about the United
States as a power that is trying to take over Russian resources. They believe that you sit over there in Washington,
D.C. and New York, or in Montana, and all you’re dreaming about is how you are going
to conquer Siberia. It’s minus 40 or 50 degrees there in Siberia;
I’m not sure you want this. But anyway— MICHAEL KIRK – So the Russian people—I know
you’re not all the Russian people, but when the Russian people think about the fact that
their president feels this way, do their hearts fill and swell with pride at what Putin was
able to do, disrupt and reflect chaos in the United States democracy? YEVGENIA ALBATS – Sure. There are some people in this country who
feel proud that Putin was able to knock down the United States. I think damage is made, for sure. You just think about this: Only 17 percent
of Russians do have foreign passport that allows them to travel. Of these, 7 or 8 percent traveled abroad. Of the 7 or 8 percent, 4 percent traveled
to Egypt and Turkey, so they have no idea what Western world is all about. Very few of them travel to the United States
because it’s very difficult to get a travel visa to the United States. But there are all kind of—you know, there
are a lot of myths about the United States. And there is, for many of the Russian people,
you know, United States is a manifestation of prosperity and freedom, and you know, that’s
the land of milk and honey, though we know that it’s not all that. Anyway, so in this country, the United States
was sort of a face of democracy, face of liberty, of pursuit of happiness. United States was everything that Soviet Union
and then Russia never was. And then, all of a sudden, they are told that
some hackers are capable to destroy the very essence of the American democracy, its elections. You start thinking, wait a second. Is it that fragile? Is it that insecure? Our beliefs in the power of democracy in the
United States is false? I think many of us
feel very uneasy and very insecure. All of a sudden, we found ourselves in this
very, very unsteady, unsafe world. You know, it’s no fun to be in political
opposition in this country, and there was always belief that there across the ocean,
there is this country, the United States, who stand behind those who fight against dictatorships
in their own country; that when worse come to worse, this country is going to, and its
leaders are going to, stand for those in other parts of the world who are fighting for their
rights, for their freedoms, for their beliefs. No longer. I think this is gone. MICHAEL KIRK – So that when you look at President
Trump and President Putin at the G-20 Conference shaking hands, looking at each other, it’s
almost like they share—first, what do you think when you see that picture of those two
men, especially given what you’ve just said? YEVGENIA ALBATS – I think that I want to apply
for jobs in New Zealand. … I feel very disillusioned. I feel, when I see—when President Putin
and President Trump shake hands, I feel like, oh, I want to fall asleep and wake up a couple
of years later. MICHAEL KIRK – What do they share? It seems like they share a list of grievances;
that it was really a grievance conversation, not anything else. YEVGENIA ALBATS – You know, I think that both
of them, they share a very cynical view of the world. I think President Trump is the first president
of the United States, at least from what I know, who doesn’t believe in American values. I have mine in American politics. I read your Founding Fathers. I read Federalist Papers. You know, a copy of the American Constitution
and Bill of Rights always sits on my desk. It is like when you want to see
the kind of writings that make you happy, when you read this, you know, “pursuit of
happiness,” this is really important, that in the foundation of the American state were
people who believed that they’re co-citizens; they want to be happy. And the deed of a leader to help he or she
to be happy, that’s—for somebody from my part of the world, it’s unbelievable. It is something, like, it’s a dream ideas. It just—it never happened in my part of
the world, and never in my country for sure. No leader in this country ever dreamed about
happiness of ordinary people. And it’s really hard to understand. I do know that Hillary Clinton did win the
popular vote, that she got almost 3 million votes more than Donald Trump. But still, it’s hard to understand how people
in the United States, in such huge numbers, voted for somebody who clearly doesn’t believe
in the values of the American democracy, at least the way I understand this from afar. MICHAEL KIRK – Well, they were helped along,
according to so many people, by the things that we’re talking about: the hack for sure,
but fake news; RT; you know, a lot of things that happened in the election. Obviously there was also a huge number of
people that Hillary Clinton didn’t perceive were going to vote the way they voted, and
Trump was more powerful in all kinds of other ways. But there is a substantial contribution, it
seems, it appears, from the president of Russia, in the composite at least of what happened,
and yielding Donald Trump. YEVGENIA ALBATS – To be honest with you, I
don’t believe that Russian involvement in the American elections, if it did happen at
the scale described by the American media, was sufficient and changed the outcome of
the elections. I covered American elections. I covered primaries in New Hampshire. I went to listen to Trump and others, you
know. I covered both conventions. I was in Cleveland. I was in Philadelphia. No, I don’t believe that it was Russia. I think that was, you know, that Trump was
elected because so many Americans got disillusioned with the ideas represented by Trump’s opponents. MICHAEL KIRK – Do you think this could backfire
on Putin? YEVGENIA ALBATS – What do you mean? MICHAEL KIRK – I mean, is there any way that,
if this gets pinned on Putin, it isn’t good for Russia or him in the world, or even especially
here in Russia? YEVGENIA ALBATS – I think the fact that U.S.
Senate passed new sanctions against Russia would feel as a punishment to Putin. I think part of the reason they had such a
long discussion during the G-20 in Hamburg, I’m absolutely aware that Putin was talking
about that, you know, we know that Congress is going to pass the bill. Then it’s up to Trump either to veto these
new sanctions against Russia or to sign the bill into law. So yes, I do think that Putin and his pals
are afraid of new sanctions, because the state of the economy is very complicated here. And despite what they said, that the impact
of the sanctions was minimal, it’s not true. It’s all about access to cheap Western money,
and now, you know, they have a very small access to this money. And money in Russia are very expensive. We’re talking about 14 percent at best,
interest rate. So anyway, yes. In that respect, it can backfire. Other than that, I think Putin is happy. He proved a point. Now all Russians, they can see that all this
chitchat about American democracy is nothing but chitchat. Look at them. You know, they have this guy, Mr. Trump, who
one day says this, and another day he says that, and you never understand what he means. And he is trying to run the country with 140
characters allowed for a tweet. So I think, you know, Putin’s successful. It made a point. You know, Russian state propaganda TV keep
showing all these reports from the United States that just prove that everybody—all
countries are corrupted. There is no difference between authoritarian
politics and democratic politics. All this conversation about values, you know,
just forget about this. There are no values whatsoever. And basically, the world is a tease everywhere,
whether in Russia or in the United States. And, you know, just stop talking about human
rights; stop talking about free and fair elections. Forget about this. And, you know, Putin made a point to Russians
for sure. So I think he’s very happy. MIKE WISER – When Putin goes into the first
meeting, when he’s first president and he goes into the meeting with Bush, and it’s
the famous story that he tells the story of the cross, and that Bush says he looked into
his soul, at that point in Putin’s presidency, what did he want from Bush and from the United
States? Was it an adversarial relationship at that
early point in Putin’s presidency? YEVGENIA ALBATS – I think back at the start
of his first presidency, Putin was looking for some friendly bilateral relationship with
the United States. But I guess, you know, with American invasion
in Iraq, then Afghanistan, then events in Libya, with all the chaos that was created
in the Middle East, he got to believe that American leaders are quite irrational, that
they create troubles, and he knows better. But I do think that, you know, that at least
at the very beginning, he was looking for some good relationship with the United States. He even once mentioned that he was ready to
join NATO. MIKE WISER – The 2011 protests into 2012,
how much of a turning point is that for Putin in his view of the West and the threat of
the Internet? How does that change Putin? YEVGENIA ALBATS – Putin, as I said, Putin
doesn’t believe that people have a freewill, that ordinary citizens in their good conscience
would get out on the streets and demand rights. He doesn’t believe in that. He doesn’t believe in people. He doesn’t believe that people have any
freewill. He doesn’t believe that people even think
about their rights when they come home and have their supper. But he does believe that foreign powers are
trying to destroy Russia; that he has to protect Russian borders and Russian wealth and Russian
resources; that it was foreign entities who provided money and resources to those who
were on the streets. Otherwise, why did they go out? There were no rational reasons for Russians
to go out on the streets; especially it was very cold winter back then. And of course, you know, Putin himself doesn’t
use Internet. He believes that Internet is just a basket
of all things dirty and all things corrupted, and Internet brings all kind of disinformation
to ordinary Russian people. Therefore, beginning 2012, after he returned
back to Kremlin from his position of the prime minister and once again became president,
as if he wasn’t before, that Internet is his enemy. And the Russian authorities started to introduce
all kind of measures that are supposed to put constraints on Internet. Right now, they are about to pass a law that
makes all kind of VPN [virtual private networks] illegal in this country. You know what is VPN? MICHAEL KIRK – VPN? Sure. YEVGENIA ALBATS – Yeah. All kind of VPNs to be illegal in this country. And there are all kind of other laws so that
they’re supposed to control the Internet. MICHAEL KIRK – So it’s safe to say the West
and the Web become enemies in a way, even stronger than they might have been before
2011-2012? YEVGENIA ALBATS – Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I think it is, you know, it’s pretty much
at the same scale as it was under Brezhnev or Andropov, with one big difference. Both Khrushchev and Brezhnev and Andropov,
all of them, they had a memory of the World War II. They were afraid of wars. They were afraid of devastation that the World
War II brought to Russians. We lost plus/minus 30 million people during
that war. We lost a whole generation that never was
born. So they were afraid of the wars. Putin doesn’t. He’s not afraid. And that’s the biggest difference. Not just Putin, but Putin and his entourage,
they are not afraid. If you remember, Brezhnev was into detente. I think Soviet leaders, they were sincere
in trying to prevent nuclear war, precisely because they remember the previous war. Putin doesn’t have this memory and doesn’t
have this fear. He is investing a hell of a lot of resources
and money and manpower, everything, into Russian military-industrial complex. He’s preparing for another war. The fact that he’s not afraid, that Russian
military doctrine, Russian national security doctrine allows for a war as it didn’t before,
that is what makes it so dangerous. Putin is not just cynical guy or KGB guy or,
you know, undemocratic guy. Putin is not just some man who doesn’t respect
borders or sovereignty of elections in another country. Putin is a bad man, and Putin is a dangerous
man. He’s dangerous not just for us; that’s
for sure. None of us, you know, really has a great future. But he’s dangerous. He’s a dangerous man for the world, precisely
because he doesn’t have fear of a war, and nuclear war is one in particular. He is a light version of North Korean dictator. All of us, we got accustomed to look at North
Korea and think, you know, well, they’re lunatics. Putin is one of us. He looks like us. He wears very good suits, like any other Western
leader. He speaks fluent German, and he understands
English. After all, he comes from a country with Tolstoy
and Dostoyevsky and great education, etc. You make a huge mistake. Of course, you know, he’s not a lunatic
he’s a very pragmatic man. But he may become a very, very dangerous man
for the future of the mankind. JIM GILMORE – The 2011 parliamentary elections,
you talked about it, but can you describe a little bit more, what do we know? What did you see that proved that the elections
weren’t perfect? I mean, you write about the carousels. You write about the ballot stuffing. What did you guys see on the ground was happening
that created the demonstrations? YEVGENIA ALBATS – It wasn’t just my reporters
who reported about the corruption of the elections, that brought, all these thousands of people
brought from other cities, who were voting twice, thrice, God knows how many times; about
ballot boxes that was stuffed with fake ballots; about the situation in the ethnic republics
of Russia, Chechnya, where, you know, the numbers, they were totally fake, totally fake. I mean, it’s a known problem, you know. People in those ethnic republics of the Russian
Federation, there were 90 percent, 99 percent, 100 percent of voters who showed up for elections
voted for the party in power, the United Russia. It’s impossible. We do know it’s impossible. We do know that everything over 70 percent
is either falsified or it is some—or it implies some sort of fraud. So we were writing about this. But the trick is that the first time I think
in the post-Soviet history, Russian intellectual journalists, political activists, they decided
to take control of the elections. They went to serve their duty at the polling
stations. So it probably—it was also, you know, they
reported using their smartphones. People reported about the fraud on the Internet,
and therefore it went viral all across the Web. And everybody—you know, it became a common
knowledge. The elections were hacked; elections were
sabotaged. And I guess we knew this before. We journalists knew that before the previous
elections were hacked as well and were fraudulent as well. But that time, precisely because of the Web,
because of the Internet, because of the social networks, that became common knowledge. Already Facebook was in place. Twitter was in place. And everyone was distributing this information
all around. So that’s why people came out in the streets
in the major cities of the Russian Federation, in Moscow and St. Petersburg first and foremost. However, what we saw here on March 26 and
on June 12 is much bigger than what we had back then. Now, thousands of people, young people came
out on the streets, not just in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but in 80-plus cities all
across the Russian Federation. We are watching here a totally new development,
a very new type of a position that didn’t exist before. It’s a totally new phenomenon that we witnessed
on June 12 and March 26.

  1. You know PBS you could have provided a tl;dr for each video. I ain't watching each hour-long video in its entirety.

  2. Excellent. This lady knows her subject from A to Z. I don't want outlines. I want people who are steeped in their subject. Unfortunately, we live in an age of outlines and superficiality.

  3. I find it amusing that Yevgenia Albeats was not following the guided questions of FRONTLINE reporter Michael Kirk and steered off to other directions, which are actually far more interesting.

    Hey, that was no "thank you" from the reporter. Why??

  4. this narrator is dense, bias and ignorant. the guest is entitled to her point of view, at least she acknowledges what she doesn't understand ~125

  5. I was born and grown in Soviet Union – all she told about KGB power and activity is true. They were in charge for what is right and what is wrong for the Soviet State, they shaped the internal and external policy through direct control of the media and they fed info to the Soviet Government.

  6. Wow, she studied at Harvard University but she has a hard time composing sentences in English. It’s painful to watch her. I wonder why she was accepted there.

  7. Terrific insight from Yevgenia Albats re: internal Russian political structure specifically Putin> I think her only misperception is about Trump's economic policies. They/e tremendous democratic values. Nice lady. Quite intellectual.

  8. she is quite a piece of work.. she is like Alex Jones of Russia.. why is PBS talking to her? oh.. because she fits the narrative..

  9. Albats isn't exactly a smooth talker, but she knows what she is talking about. Masha Gessen is well informed but tends to romanticize a little.

  10. she is jewish not russian, all of your "russian" guests are jews, i'm not antisemit but wtf? shitty american journalism

  11. these guys are only puzzled at how Putin despite all the western media hype still has over 80 percent approval rating on all polls local and foreign

  12. Always funny to hear this people babbling things that they don't believe themselves. Anyways thank God for Putin and Russians who support them, they are the last obstacle to the New World (Dis)Order.

  13. Full of incite  and educational, but despite a being a Journalist herself and "in the know";  how much is actually fact and how much is fiction?  Yevgenia sounds  so confident that I would go with "Fact"

  14. Really proud of being contemporary of Yevgenia Markovna.
    Missing the paper version of "The New Times". Have all of the issues since June 2014.

  15. This series by Frontline is must watch for everyone trying to understand today's Russia.
    Putin keeps its citizens above starving conditions, but Russia and North Korea are very simlar, Russia happens to have natural resources, oil, gas, rare metals. Other than that not much difference. Russians are conditionined to never been truly free, they are pretending to enjoy regime under their latest Tzar.

  16. She just hates Putin. I found out that ALL peope interviwed here don't like him. What's the sense to collect them up and listen? Is it objectively? They didn't put smb at least neutral to Russia… No, It's not objectively. But of course, then we speak about RUSSIA we don't need any objectivity. What we really need – people (especially from Russia) who will blaming, declaring and exposing and so on… Yeee, we are glad to hear it whatever they say. The interviewer didn't even ask her "how do you know about…" he just wants her to speak in "such a way". It's so democratically… There is no just simply common sense in her such words "…Putin was taught in academy how to be a professional liar…" Do you really believe it? ))

  17. Our democracy has had its ups and downs but in the end, most of us really are Constitutional transparent capitalists. During the Civil Rights unrest 50 plus years ago, some left for other nations they felt gave more freedom and opportunity to African-Americans but often they fled to nations with far less freedom and opportunity for all. I think the election of Trump brought together many people with different grievances against the society and government. We elected the first African-American president after a very conservative white man from the opposite party. Things are never moving in a straight line. 20 years ago if one had said that gays could get married legally and serve openly in the Army, most would have thought that impossible and this past month, when dozens of mostly men have lost their positions in all areas of business and entertainment, due to sexual abuse, no one would have thought that could happen in our lifetimes.

  18. so all those Americans who voted for Trump, did not vote for him? So Americans really wanted to vote for Clinton? What BS!!

  19. And he jus lies lies lies to his cronies? And the Oligarchs? This woman is imbecilic with moronic thinking in her analysis full of agenda and propaganda.

  20. It’s painful listening to sad biased old, supposedly educated, yentas like this, presumably bitter about their personal failures in life. She deliberately overlooks Putin’s incredible successes in improving life for the Russian people, in her haste to smear Putin. No matter how successful a politician proves to be, there are always otherwise people who will choose to be critical. She is obviously one of those. A useful idiot for MSM to exploit. This video is propaganda, nothing more.

  21. This is excellent information. Putin is correct about corruption. In the USA Wall Street GREED corrupted the "free" DEREGULATED financial markets. People in the USA became seduced by the conspicuous consumption (using borrowed money; not wages). These people became primarily CONSUMERS not informed CITIZENS. I also blame Walmart for forcing American manufacturers to FIRE American workers and engage cheap ASIAN labor (to INCREASE Walmart profit margins). Walmart threatened to deny shelf space to those who did not COMPLY with their demands. China/ASIA was the beneficiary of Walmart's BLACKMAIL.

  22. Putin was also right about the irrational decisions of the CHENEYbush administration regarding war in the Middle East.

  23. I am truly in awe of this woman's courage to speak as she did INSIDE a country where journalists who draw the wrath of Putin have been harassed, beaten, jailed and murdered. Never before have I appreciated just how vital a role American played for people of the world for whom a life free of oppression is an extremely unlikely possibility, a mere dream. YET, though but a dream, it is a life-line of hope. Ms. Albats has shown me that far from being a corny relic from a naive and corny "Leave It To Beaver" age, the Statue of Liberty remains a POWERFUL icon throughout the globe. No matter how distant, her faint flickering flame beams the hope of future freedom – a hope without which SO many might slip into the darkness of despair. How deservedly ASHAMED I feel at my thoughtless indifference, my taking for granted that which was paid for with blood – our freedom. that is denied to so many. Before now, my not uncommon responses to our current slapstick politics were a mix of astonishment, embarrassment, indignation and rage – all colored with a tinge of resentment, as if it were all a personal affront, as if my sense of entitlement were under attack from decidedly unworthy quarters. NOW, humbled by the words of this brave woman, I feel this self-centered and superficial outlook dissolve. I'm sitting here thinking how much MORE devastating Trump's attack on American institutions and values have been for the world's oppressed. How could I think it okay to just whine and grumble about this? Is making facile jokes online my response to a vicious assault on the hopes of a helpless humanity? These people are in FAR greater peril that I am; for their entire lives they could count on no-one and nothing except AMERICA to champion their struggle for freedom. This is NOT just corny – it is REAL, it is HAPPENING and I need to figure out what to DO. Please forgive me, Yevgenia and thank you.

  24. She says, Putin thinks Western world wants to take over Russian resources. It's minus 40or 50 degrees in Siberia, and I'm not sure you want this (1:15). – I was like WHAT?! How about drilling for oil in the Arctic? Stopped watching after that.

  25. A penny dropped for me when Yevgenia mentioned the Communist Party was just The State. So Soviet Russia did not have a one party state, they mere,y had what is natural, they had a one State State. So like Germany or Framnce as opposed to federal/principality countries like the USA, UK, or Australia. So the rotten core in The Soviet Union was not the political party, it was the KGB and the state terror apparatus which suppressed natural plurality of individual opinion within their one state State. Without those instruments of terror and censorship Soviet Russia might have been totally ok , or even better than the USA, because without partisan politics they would simply have had many people all debating as individual consciences. Kind of a shame under Stalin and right through to Putin they went down the road of totalitarian facism instead of collective socialism.

  26. This woman knows shit. President Trump cares for USA, for his nation, for values, for better future for his country and you named. This woman admits her connections with Obama, Hillary and all corrupted Democrats.

    cuts deep;
    still important to remember by almost all objective measures life is getting better

  28. This funny how for this documentary they find all these Jewish ("honest, not lairs") from ex-Soviet to talk about Russia, (lot of them immigrants, or corrupt mafia people, traitors that sold everything that was possible to sell and participated in tearing apart Russia in 90s and that Putin drove out of the country) or hateful ex-communist jews like this lady who thinks that she is above all regular people because she is from "intelligent jewish" family… and these people supposed to be experts on modern days Russia and of course on Putin (who they have personal scores with and openly hate)… and of course all of them have "books" for sale lol. Nothing but DISGUSTING laughable propaganda and manipulation of facts and even pure fantasies! These people represent what we call in US – "the swamp" and "shadow government" of the world. And putin will always be their enemy and man from "poor family" that is not equal to them. My stomach really reacted badly to this lady interview.

  29. here is one for the Russkies : Stalin was a wimp and an idiot. I would have loved to take his little shriveled arm and twisted it right off……

  30. You will be very much surprised at Judgement Day of almighty God when truth will be reveiled all liars end in the lake of fire filled mainly by politicians and mainstream media members and such people as Jorge Sarosz and Gypsy Sarkozy.. who plotted to killing of Muhamar Gadafy.

  31. Putin is an autocrat running a plutocracy under the guise of a pseudo democracy using nationalism, fear, and near total control of the media to manipulate the control the Russian people!

  32. You people who venerate Putin are such old fashioned goobers. Hero worship is dead. Don't you know that?

  33. Yes I'm a snowflake liberal! Me and a bazillion other snowflake liberals now falling and soon will become a
    Mighty torrent that will wash to the ocean, turning into a blue tsunami, washing away this toxic red tied,
    into the Abyss! Republicans you now have our undivided attention! Any hacker of the world that wants to let
    Donald Trump have the launch codes to the nuclear Arsenal, please feel free to hack are elections!

  34. Albats was wrong about Russian covert influence in the 2016 election. The GRU operation was extensive and it thoroughly infiltrated the Trump campaign. Cambridge Analytica used micro-targeting tools which were effective in the US as well as Britain with Brexit.

  35. Towards the end this woman has it wrong and the interviewer tries goading her along with it.
    The interviewer is-in all these videos- trying to make the Donald and Putin into the same person. Trump wants Americans to prosper, (want to argue they aren't?) fair and square and any sharp elbows are towards those that have been getting an advantage dealing with us over the years.
    yet towards the end, she starts to go off track and the Interviewer laps it up and tries to lead her. Wrong. Bad. This Interviewer throughout all these videos is looking for a gotcha against Trump and each of the Russian citizen interviewee's – don't see it don't seem to go along. Trump and Putin are diametrically opposed. Trump will lead him down a primrose lane- Like he does with any and all World leaders- till he gets the deal he wants- for us- the American side.
    This does not mean he is like those leaders. It means he plays them along however it takes to arrive where he wants. There's an old saying in the car business you "kiss their ass till you kick their ass"
    That's exactly what Trump does and the media reads it wrong. As if he's " going along with Vladimir O Lord.."
    No you numbskull. While he' appears "gracious" – with Kim with Putin- Trump is five steps ahead thinking

    I agree with her. What Putin did (at most if at all) was to sow chaos. And you see the chaos every day and night ad nauseum on CNN and MSNBC. CNN and MSNBC are the victims of Putin's disarray campaign- if there was one. Mission Accomplished Vlad, CNN and MSNBC the Wapo and all the rest FELL for the Russian scam. Not Pennsylvanians. Not Ohioans. Not Michiganders or Wisconsin' ers.
    CNN MSNBC et al Drunk and 18 months later still drinking the Russian Kool Aid and are absolutely DRUNK on it– every day and night 24/7. Putin did succeed if he succeeded at all – spectacularly—in driving Liberals crazy.
    Cut it out
    Cut it out liberals you make yourselves look like ass. In addition to insulting every one of us from Ohio Pennsylvania Michigan Wisconsin et al. who actually did put Trump in the White House…
    Stop drinking –everyday 24/7—the Vlad's kool-aid.
    Please stop with the Russian boogeyman under the bed crap. Turn on the light. Look under the bed. See? Nothing there. But Putin sure is making you look crazy.

  36. This series is absolutely terrific, incredibly informative. Thank you, PBS, for getting this out there. Mr. Putin is clearly at war with the United States. He is angry, somewhat rash, greedy and a criminal KGB at heart.

  37. I've been listening to the Radio Channel at which Albats has been working for years ("echo of moscow"). There are many question for their role in the Russian propaganda machine and their credibility as a news-outlet. Firstly the radio is being financed by Gazprom. Why would Gazprom, a state owned corporation finance legit opposition news outlet? Secondly they let Kremlin propagandists speak all the time. Thirdly, in my opinion, the radio as the whole is working against the opposition, spreading the feeling of powerlessness amongst people critical to Russian government. Also the interviews, even the ones critical of the state are mostly leading nowhere, giving no narrative and just "whining about the terribe lot" of the thinking people. So it's basically a distraction and a waste of time for potential dissidents. There's no real revolutionary potential behind that radio and i highly doubt the people who work there aren't aware of their role as a cog in the larger brainwashing machine.

    So long story short – she maybe telling the truth here, but still I wouldn't trust her and her co-workers fully.

    Cheers from Ukraine

  38. On several of these I've heard that Putin hates the US because he thinks we lie and are sneaky. Then Ms. Albats says Putin is trained by the KGB to lie and be sneaky. So why does he hate the US? We are better at it than he is?

  39. I'm from Russia. And I'm amazed how some people can be so smart and so stupid at the same time!
    I don't know where she is from, but she clearly believes she knows MORE than the KGB of Russia knows. = THEN SHE IS DELUSIONAL.
    She clearly ignores the FACTS that what Putin promised, more prosperity, health and a better life, he has delivered. = SHE IS DELUSIONAL.
    And on top of that she talks about Russian dictatorial state in such a way like if USA "democratic" state is better. = SHE IS DELUSIONAL.
    The thing is that even IF Putin and KGB intelligence is wrong about USA is trying to destabilize Russia trough Ukraine etc. If USA got a chance to do it, they would take it! But the thing is that Putin is not wrong as even Americans admit it and everyone with some brains knows that it's not Russia that is trying to blame USA for everything 24/7, but USA trying to blame Russia and when Russia responds, then Russia gets the blame for responding in self-defense. You've got to be completely delusional in order to not see what is going on in USA today. Even when Putin speaks out, it's like fresh air to all the poison that USA is pumping to the society of USA and every other country in support of USA. When USA speaks out, it almost never makes sense!!! When Putin speaks out, it always makes sense! USA only got questions, Putin only has answers. People from USA are now more than ever in support of Russia and against their own country!!!! It may sound absurd and funny, but it's true. So what she is talking about is the same kind of crap and speculations that you would hear on CNN news. Give me a break! It's right before I would call her a traitor to Russia!! And I'm the one that are now no longer the citizen of Russia, but of Denmark. So that's saying something!!! OMG…

  40. Communism almost ruined Russia.
    Boris Yeltsin almost sold out Russia.
    Putin rebuilds Russia and has what it takes to make it great again.
    This woman is not satisfied!
    Well then go to USA if you like it so much!
    Or better yet, back to communism, in China!
    People are returning back to Russia, because it's becoming great again.
    But this woman…. this woman…. …………………. no words….

  41. USA is #1 Fascist Police State of the world today with an illusion of Democracy and that President is in control, which he isn't.
    USA is meddling in the affairs of EVERY country on the map. But no, no, no! Blame the Russia, it's Russia that is really scary and bad! 😉

  42. Turn it up to 1.5x speed, you'll thank me for the time I've saved you. Man, smart lady but she talks so s-l-l-o-o-w-w…….

  43. Putin bristled at Hillary when she was Secretary of State. He saw her style and actions and did not want her as president. Putin has now surpassed the length of time Stalin was in power and there is no end in sight of how long he will remain in power.

  44. When you enter Russia, your personal laptop gets hacked. The same thing holds true with your cellphone. Putin utilizes all surveillance tools like Pegasus to monitor everyone within Russia including and especially visitors. MbS used Pegasus and other programs to hack the cellphone of the closest people Jamaal Khashoggi was communicating and planning with. Khashoggi was just as much an enemy of Putin's designs as he was of the designs of MbS AND Trump.

  45. Putin must have somehow thought that a Hillary presidency was going to be a threat to his designs. By hacking so many servers and computers, he has been made privy to certain intentions that would box him in with ways he doesn't agree with. Trump has been cultivated by Russian contacts for quite some time now. And so have other people inside his family and group of friends.

  46. The recent government shutdown has left a very bad taste in the mouths of many Americans including many who voted for Trump. Many are having serious second thoughts about Trump's ability to govern well or properly. This ongoing investigation of Russian interference in our presidential election will create plenty of negative blow back against Trump AND Putin. Putin sees this possibility and will put pressure on Trump to fire Mueller and pardon everyone in the investigation.

  47. Yup. She’s in Moscu. The best way to listen to these is to pick a room in your apartment that needs to be painted. Clear the furniture, sweep it, put this on an start painting while listening.

  48. She gives the US too much credit for being resilient. First with the 2001 terrorist attacks, then with soldiers getting war training and experience, then the sheer hatred (by some) of Obama, the rise of conspiracy kooks, next Trump, and caustic conservatives/nationalists, it all adds up to the writing is on the wall.

    I binged all six seasons of “Downton Abbey” and came to understand why the author/writers/actors committed so much time to the series. British society was under major flux before and after WW1. Then in “Boardwalk Empire” there was emphasis on veteran soldiers joining organized crime. Same as in “Peaky Blinders”, all that is to say that the US is awash in combat veterans who align with some dark ideas floating around. Follow some YouTube gun/2A channels and you’ll get a clearer idea of the vitriol. These folks don’t care if Trump communes with Beelzebub, so long as they get their guns and ammo. The religious zealots don’t care if he starts another war, the capitalists don’t care so long as their hog gets fat, and the balance of his supporters are just idiots. Speaking as a once ESL student and college drop out, the depth of stupidity in his camp is bottomless. The horse men are out of the gates, as far as what DJT has accomplished. As the speaker says, GTFO and find another hemisphere. Get out now, while you can. Things ain’t going back to normal after this chump.

  49. There is a missing link which she deliberately don’t cross it, the period where Putin clime the ladder of power from being dean assistance to be in the circle of past president Yeltsin. This is the power of the Oligarch, they put him in power to protect their interest…


  51. Seattle Times reported that the Russian Orthodox Patriarch was a KGB
    agent . Let's go back to M.S. Gorbachev, who in 1988 at the U.N December
    made an astounding speech describing a NEW World Order, reported
    in the New York Times, and The Marxist Review .. not much attention
    was paid until GHWBUSH made that New World Order speech on
    Sept. 11 , 1990 and did any remember that it was Gorbachev, oh
    Wait ! it was December 7 , 1989 , a harbinger perhaps… oh
    wait again SMERSH as a special service meaning " death
    to spies " ..

  52. The very firm attitude toward the Russiagate conspiracy expressed by this Russian dissident journalist is the exact same attitude which characterizes the thoughtful progressives in the United States — we have had no factual evidence of this purported event, and so we are inclined not to believe anything without such evidence.

  53. There is only 139 mln people in russia, not 150 mln and teh number will decine due to the further robbery and extraction of its poor economy.

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